WHEN Australia China Business Council Western Australian president Adam Handley met WA Symphony Orchestra chair Janet Holmes a Court in a Qantas lounge a few years ago, their conversation eventually landed on matters Chinese.
Now, the pair’s business interests have aligned in a unique partnership under which the WASO and the China Philharmonic Orchestra will perform in each other’s countries, exchange senior musicians, and seek to develop better business relationships.
The deal has taken years of work from both the ACBC, WA Symphony Orchestra and concert violinist and adviser Min Yang.
“We talked about forming an alliance because the orchestra had been to China in 2006,” Mrs Holmes a Court said about her initial meeting with Mr Handley.
“The idea of forming some sort of more permanent relationship evolved from that and he and our CEO Craig Whitehead, and Barrie Lepley, one of our board members who has business interests in China, have worked very hard over the last few years to make this happen.”
At the recent ACBC WA Chinese New Year’s event, Mr Handley and Mrs Holmes a Court announced the musical partnership in front of an audience of almost 600 people with business interests in China and Western Australia.
Mr Handley said he realised the potential of a partnership that encouraged greater social interaction after he spoke to more than a dozen Chinese executives living and developing projects in WA about issues they were having.
“There was an overwhelming theme that every executive mentioned to me about them needing to be able to learn how to communicate more effectively with Western Australians,” he said.
“If we want to learn more about each other and communicate more effectively, and therefore develop these projects more effectively, we need to have a relationship outside of business.
“Without friendship, when problems arise they become magnified, but if you’re friends the relationship helps to diminish the problem, not magnify it.”
One of the key aims of the partnership is to improve cultural understanding by instigating events that merge the Chinese and WA business worlds at the concert hall, and in hospitals and schools.
“There will be more people than those who just come to the concert hall that will be exposed to the Chinese musicians,” Mrs Holmes a Court said.
“You don’t have to speak English or Chinese to be moved by music; it’s a universal language.”